The whole Taylor Family is headed to today’s game, so I’ll probably be wearing my “dad” hat much more than my “writer” hat. It’s The Little Girl’s first regular season game, and The Little Boy’s first game of any kind. Here’s hoping they enjoy the experience – they are currently very excited. No pressure, Cubs, but a great game could create a couple lifelong fans. Just sayin’.
- Through these first 18 games, including last night, Cubs relievers have thrown just 40 innings, by far the fewest in baseball.
- The bullpen finally got some work last night, though it didn’t look especially impressive. Each of Neil Ramirez, Clayton Richard, and Trevor Cahill gave up multiple runs, though none has received consistent work. That’s been true for most of the Cubs’ relievers, as the starters have gone more than five innings in every single start this year – some starts going well beyond that – and, when you have a bullpen of eight, there are only so many innings to go around. As we saw last night, I think it’s fair to worry a little about a lack of sharpness for some of the guys. Joe Maddon called it a good problem to have (Cubs.com), but acknowledged that it is an issue.
- I’m not really sure of the answer, since you don’t want to artificially yank starters just to get the pen some work (though a slightly quicker trigger finger is fine), and you also might not want to drop down to seven relievers because you never know when you’ll suddenly go through a stretch where you need them (also, none of the Cubs’ relievers you’d consider moving out can be freely optioned to the minors, so dropping one means risking losing that pitcher entirely). On the whole, the bullpen has been excellent this year, so it’s only a mild concern at this point anyway. Even individual pitchers who’ve not looked great, I’m hesitant to analyze or conclude too much, because the appearances have been so few and far between.
- Even after last night’s implosion, the Cubs’ bullpen ERA is middle of the pack in baseball, its FIP is above average, and its xFIP is third best in baseball.
- As for last night’s starter, it sounds like John Lackey was most unhappy about leaving some hittable two-strike pitches in the zone (Tribune). Whether that translates to him nibbling a bit more next time out, we’ll see.
- Dexter Fowler domination check: second best OBP in baseball, second best wOBA in baseball, third best wRC+ in baseball, highest WAR in baseball. There’s a week left in April, and Fowler has already been worth 2.0 WAR.
- Javier Baez made a quietly excellent play at third base last night, staying with a ball just just ticked off third base enough to give most infielders a problem. Joe Maddon said a big part of the reason Baez got the second straight start at third last night was because of his defense (Cubs.com), and particularly with Lackey on the mound, presumably because he usually allows a lot of balls in play.
- The White Sox pulled off a once-in-ever triple play.
- There’s a lightning deal at Amazon on a Fergie Jenkins signed baseball coming up at 12pm CT (1pm ET). You can’t know what the price will be until then, but the lightning deals are usually pretty strong.
- If you missed it this morning, Albert Almora went way deep, Ian Happ homered, too, and Willson Contreras took a ball off somewhere unpleasant.
- Don’t give the bat flip a bad name, Matt Holliday:
If you're going to bat flip a walk, you have to do a lot better than this, Matt Holliday. pic.twitter.com/wnwbUghmXe
— Baseball Is Fun (@flippingbats) April 24, 2016